Some Kids Actually Can't Wear Masks, Which Is Why the Rest of Us Should

Sabrina Rojas Weiss

Masks work — have you heard that enough today? Have you seen the evidence with your own eyes, as communities that implement mask orders experience a drop in COVID-19 transmissions? Good! But one mom in Ohio is reminding us that there are some actually valid circumstances in which a mask might do more harm than good. That’s all the more reason for the rest of us and our kids to mask up.

“Putting a mask on him is like torture,” Shakiyla Green told Ohio’s WDTN of her 3-year-old, Joel, who has autism and sensory processing disorder. “He’ll start freaking out because of the sensory — sometimes they just don’t like stuff touching their face. And so he’ll just start freaking out having what we call a panic attack.”

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Parents of neurotypical children might nod their heads and say, yeah, their kids have tantrums too — but please, this is not comparable. Sensory processing disorder causes a person’s brain to over- or under-react to stimuli, causing behavior that can be far more extreme than a simple tantrum.

Ohio’s mask mandate is only for kids and adults ages 10 and up, but individual businesses can set their own rules. Green and her son have been denied entry into banks, stores, and most recently Kings Island amusement park.

She shared her story with WDTN in order to raise awareness about why kids like her son should be an exception to such rules.

We’d like this story to raise awareness about why the rest of us need to wear masks and to encourage our kids to wear them too. For one thing, it’s a lot like how everyone who can get vaccinated should — by preventing the spread between vaccinated people, we also protect those who can’t get vaccinated. By masking up, we lower coronavirus transmission rates in our communities and can eventually get to the place where everyone’s at a minimal risk.

But here’s another reason: Right now, because so many selfish people are trying to get out of wearing masks, places of business constantly have to have this argument with their patrons. If everyone who can wear a mask does wear one, then businesses can give the benefit of the doubt to a mom like Green, rather than assume she’s just another COVIDiot. If there weren’t already scammers out there who had made fake mask exemption cards, we could suggest such a thing be used for kids like Joel. But no, jerks need to ruin things for everyone else.

With schools starting to open this month, your time to get your kids used to wearing masks is now. Shop for a few different kinds of masks to see which fit them best. Does a pleated style or a fitted mask work best? Will they tolerate loops around the ears, or should you get something that ties around the head? Are there some fabrics that feel better than others? Should you look into face masks specifically made for toddlers? There are inexpensive options out there so that you can choose them in fun designs, and even buy a lanyard they’ll love, with little impact on your budget. And then start practicing wearing masks in your house, building up their tolerance every day. Little by little, they will do just fine with it. Trust us. Trust all those kids in China.

This pandemic only goes away if we all work together. And it’s our job as humans to protect the vulnerable among us too.

This kids face mask gallery is a good place to start shopping!

kids face masks
kids face masks

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